Moving to the Cloud? Follow This Migration Model

  • by Michael A. Moore
  • September 7, 2012
See how to successfully migrate your existing enterprise class SAP application servers to a commodity-based or cloud computing infrastructure. Understand the prerequisites of virtualized servers, the build process, and the steps required to transform a traditional SAP infrastructure into a virtualized environment.
Key Concept

Virtualization is the key technology that enables cloud computing. A virtual machine (VM) provides a layer of abstraction between the application and the hardware, allowing a single physical server to host multiple virtual servers. Hypervisor software controls the multiple VMs deployed on and across multiple physical servers. The combination of VM and hypervisor software provides numerous benefits to the application:

  • Availability. The VM can be moved between hosts using the hypervisor in the event of hardware failure.
  • Reliability. The VM can be brought up at a disaster recovery site on dissimilar hardware using the same virtualization software.
  • Scalability. Additional resources such as memory and CPU can be added by changing the VM’s parameters up to the limits of the underlying hardware.

Most medium- and large-sized SAP systems deployed in the 1990s leveraged reduced instruction set computer (RISC)-based enterprise servers running a proprietary version of UNIX. Although this technology continues to be a very valid solution, many companies are considering a migration to commodity hardware using virtualization technology as a first step toward adopting a cloud computing model. (See the sidebar “Why Migrate?”)

I present a proven model that provides an efficient method for migrating from a proprietary UNIX landscape to a virtualized UNIX landscape based on supported SAP tools and methodologies. It is divided into four main sections: planning, migration, testing, and rollout.  During the planning phase, I review consideration and selection of the SAP-supported virtualization software and hardware, differences between source and target operating systems, and sizing analysis. In the section on migration from source to target servers, I review a strategy that has been successfully deployed that minimizes overall risk. The testing section provides tips on conducting both functional and load tests that SAP fully supports and that require less investment.  The final section details the production rollout strategy, which ensures total compute capacity is equivalent to or greater than initial capacity, and that a monitoring protocol ensures the end-user experience is maintained.

Why Migrate?

Companies consider application migrations to virtual environments for several reasons:

  • Dedicating hardware to applications results in an inefficient use of corporate resources.
  • A changing marketplace that includes vendor realignments often results in increased hardware costs for proprietary enterprise solutions.
  • The hardware replacement life cycle and tough economic conditions lead CIOs to consider new lower cost options.
  • Office of Management and Budget (OMB) mandates direct federal agencies to adopt cloud strategies (
  • Corporate stewardship initiatives such as Green IT
SAP Basis administrators will be interested in this article as their IT management makes the decision to pursue migration of applications into the cloud.

Michael A. Moore

Michael A. Moore has been an IT consultant for 24 years with more than 12 years of experience as an SAP technical architect. Mike has held positions with DuPont, Westinghouse, IBM, and Accenture. His clients have included public sector, consumer products, manufacturing, and financial companies. For the past seven years, Mike's career has focused on SAP technical architecture, where he is responsible for SAP financial, logistics, asset management, and business intelligence solutions for a US federal public sector customer. Mike received his bachelor's degree from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and holds numerous certifications including PMP, ITIL Foundations, Certified Scrum Master (Agile), and several SAP certifications. 

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